Canadian chamber calls for settlement to lumber dispute

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2001

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The British Columbia Chamber of Commerce has taken its case against U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber to allied business groups south of the border.

A letter from the provincial chamber to all 7,000 U.S. chambers of commerce last week asks them to bring pressure on American officials to resolve the dispute quickly, calling it a ''lose-lose'' situation for both countries.

''In these tough economic times, it is in your best interests to overturn this ruling and preserve the valued trading relationship between our two nations,'' the letter said.

Since August, the U.S. Commerce Department has imposed penalties totaling 32 percent on Canadian softwood lumber based on claims that Canadian companies are subsidized through low timber-cutting fees on government land.

The dispute has cost British Columbia thousands of jobs, but the letter emphasizes how the dispute war affects U.S. consumers.

''We don't think Americans know how serious this issue is,'' British Columbia chamber president John Winter said in a news release issued Monday.

''We want American business to know that these tariffs are unfair and result in the general public subsidizing U.S. lumber producers.''

About 30,000 jobs are at stake in British Columbia and the American National Association of Home Builders estimates about 450,000 Americans won't be able to afford a home because of the tariffs, Winter said.

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